The novel coronavirus (COVID-19) has put a stop to the normal routines of everyday life both in the U.S. and abroad. And while social distancing is the course of action to take until told otherwise, moves aren’t always something that can wait. How does moving during a pandemic work though, and more importantly—are moving services even still available?
Below, we’ll outline some of the biggest questions about moving during the pandemic in an effort to help the process be as stress free as possible. We’ll also share some of the tips provided by the World Health Organization (WHO), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and our friends at the American Moving and Storage Association (AMSA) on how to keep yourself and others safe during your relocation.
For many people, a moving date is not flexible. If you have a lease ending or if you previously sold or purchased a home with an upcoming closing date, it’s important that you have access to the critical services that can allow you to relocate. While cities and states across the country have ordered the temporary closure of “non-essential” businesses, moving is generally considered essential and moving service providers are currently operating in all states.
If you do have flexibility in your moving date, consider waiting—especially if you’re in a high-risk group. If you can’t postpone your move but are concerned about exposure, an option might be to move with your own vehicle or a rental truck, provided you’ll be able to lift and carry all of your belongings.
Note that the closure of non-essential businesses does vary by state, or sometimes even county or city. It’s possible that the orders are different in your locality, so it’s important to do your research. However, in states where lock-down orders have been put in place, moving companies are so far considered to be essential, and are still in operation.
At this point, yes. We have not seen any notable shutdowns of service among major moving companies. That being said, decisions about closures may be left to individual franchise owners. If you have already scheduled your move and haven’t heard anything, assume that your moving company is still providing services unless told otherwise, but still call just to confirm.
If you’re worried about moving during an pandemic for a move that is still upcoming and for which you haven’t scheduled movers, it’s hard to say what will and will not be available in the months to come. For now, continue to do research on companies and ask directly what steps are being taken when you reach out.
What has changed at this point is largely going to be related to the customer experience itself, including frequent hand washing among movers and no physical contact between movers and clients.
Same as moving companies, major storage companies continue to run operations. What you might be able to expect however is limited hours of accessibility and/or a reduction in the amount of customers who are able to access their units at any one time. Storage companies should also be following proper hygiene practices, including sanitization of access pads and the requisite six feet or more of space between customer and customer and customer and employee.
Major rental truck companies continue to be in service, as they are considered essential for transportation and personal mobility needs. Again, what may be different is the experience, since companies like Enterprise and U-Haul have put into place their own protocols for physical distancing. This means that your pick-up and drop-off location may not be at the branch office, and that you’ll have to make your reservation online or over the phone instead of in person.
Go to your moving service provider’s website to view their COVID-19 policy, or contact them directly. In most cases, essential businesses like moving companies are able to set their own practices for operating under the pandemic, however you will almost certainly see protocols put into place around physical distancing and sanitization. If you have a question or concern about your moving company’s COVID-19 policy, contact your provider to discuss.
If you need to cancel a move due to COVID-19, contact your moving provider directly. Most moving contracts are non-binding, which means that you can cancel without financial penalty up to a set period of time prior to your service. If you provided a deposit, you’ll have to look at your contract to see whether or not you can expect it to be returned to you. Note that even if your deposit was non-refundable, there is a chance that your moving company will return it to you anyway due to the unique circumstances of COVID-19.
The process of a DIY move looks pretty much the same now as it did before COVID-19, minus the ability to have a couple friends come over and lend a hand in exchange for pizza. Some additional things that you will want to do however include keeping hand sanitizer, soap, and paper towels accessible at all times, we well as making a detailed plan for both your departure and arrival.
If you rent, talk to your current landlord about how you can safely drop off keys and collect your security deposit, and talk to your new landlord about the process for a safe move in. Putting in a blueprint of steps ahead of time will help you maintain social distancing during your DIY move and answer any questions you might have about the process.
Moving companies are taking the coronavirus pandemic very seriously. To that end, companies across the country have put into place protocols designed to protect their employees and their customers. These include:
All of these practices help ensure that moving services can remain available in a safe way. A virtual move estimate for example provides you with the same quote you’d expect any time you hire movers without the need to have someone enter your home.
We talk often about how important it is to have a plan for your move, and that goes double for a move during the coronavirus. You have to remain one step ahead to ensure that you have the right supplies (since you can’t be running back and forth to the store), and to ensure that you leave yourself enough time to pack and get ready for your movers.
To prepare for a move amidst COVID-19, be sure to keep the following steps in mind:
If you’re not sure about protocols for moving during the coronavirus lockdown, you are certainly not alone. This is unprecedented territory that necessitates keeping up to date with recommendations provided by WHO and the CDC. In the meantime, the AMSA has provided some helpful tips for making your move go as smoothly as it can during the pandemic. Here are some of the key takeaways.
If you have to cancel your moving services, do so earlier rather than later. The sooner you can let your movers know that you no longer need their services, the better. If you’re not officially cancelling your move yet but do want to know what the procedure will be in the event that you have to, that’s another reason to contact your movers directly and go over the details. If traveling for your move, plan accordingly. Need to book flights or hotels for your move? Make refundable reservations and/or only work with companies that offer free cancellations. Ask about cancellation policies before you book so that you don’t end up wasting money later on.
Being smart when moving during the pandemic requires that you follow all of the standard pandemic rules and apply them to your move. Social distancing and sanitization requirements need to be upheld while moving. One silver lining is that social distancing means that you might have more time to devote to organizing your home prior to your move and getting rid of the things you no longer want or need. If you plan on donating items like clothing, linens, furniture, shelf stable non-perishables, etc., call the place that you would like to donate to ahead of time and see what their policies are. While many people are in need during this time, it’s likely not going be quite as easy as just driving to your nearest donation center and dropping stuff of (but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do it).
Please stay safe during your move. We will be updating the site with new moving regulations or changes to the industry as they happen, so check back if you have additional questions about what to expect.